The Goodbye Kiss (2006, Michele Soavi)

As a rule, neo-noir tends to be crap. The Goodbye Kiss is no different, except in its protagonist. The male role here replaces the traditional deceptive female role. I had that observation near the end of the film, when I’d given up trying to figure out why I’d kept watching it instead of turning it off. Maybe because it is interesting. The protagonist, the lead, is a terrible human being. He’s not amoral or something. He’s a bad guy. The film does feature worse guys and it does present the character as haunted by some of his previous bad acts, but he’s bad guy and the viewer knows it the whole time. Unfortunately, this different approach does not a good film make.

Another problem is its obvious novel roots. The film’s very fat, with a lot developments and events in the first hour and twenty minutes. Enough for five movies probably. Three decent ones and two good ones. The film’s mostly told in summary with indeterminate time passing between each cut and it dehumanizes the supporting, which is probably a good idea because the protagonist might end up killing them. Actually, no. His cold-bloodness increases as time passes, probably to make the viewer think he might not end up doing what ends up doing in the end, but, really, it’s a foregone conclusion. Goodbye Kiss is a big believer of Chekov’s gun on the wall.

I watched it mostly because Michele Soavi directed it and he’s an Argento protégé and he has the same problems Argento has (the inability to make a good film because of its script) and there’s some cute homages. Otherwise he’s fifty-fifty. Half his shots, half don’t. The working ones do so because he’s in his element. The failing ones because he’s out of it. He’s as disconnected with the film as a viewer will be.

The acting’s generally good. Alessio Boni plays the lead and he does fine, having fun with playing someone totally unsympathetic but in every scene. Michele Placido is a corrupt cop who’s amusing. There are some romantic interests who are boring, not bad, but boring.

Like I said, there’s enough story here for five movies (more than the average neo-noir, which usually only has three). Terrible writing and–visual proficiency aside–the wrong director certainly hurt the film. But the container itself is flawed, if not broken completely.

Oh, jeez–I just looked up the credits on IMDb: a novel author, two story credits and four screenwriters. Nothing better than a film in a debilitated genre written by four people.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Michele Soavi; screenplay by Soavi, Marco Colli, Franco Ferrini and Luigi Ventriglia, from a story by Soavi and Lorenzo Favella, based on a novel by Massimo Carlotto; director of photography, Giovanni Mammolotti; edited by Anna Rosa Napoli; music by Andrea Guerra; production designer, Andrea Crisanti; produced by Dino Di Dionisio; released by Mikado.

Starring Alessio Boni (Giorgio), Michele Placido (Anedda), Carlo Cecchi (Maître Brianese), Alina Nedelea (Roberta) and Isabella Ferrari (Flora).

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